This guide was written to educate interested parties on Cable Television
descrambling, descramblers and some of the various methods used to defeat scrambling methods on
premium cable or pay cable television stations. The author of this guide
is simply exercising every Americans First Amendment right, Freedom of
Speech. The intent of this writing is not to defraud or promote the
theft of cable services. This guide should not be interpreted as legal
advice, if you have legal questions contact a lawyer or your local
authorities. Be warned that stealing cable services is illegal, and
there are severe penalties for anyone caught doing so.
If you have determined that your cable company uses an addressable
converter, it will be a descrambler that you will want to purchase.
There are several types of descramblers, as we talked about earlier. If
you have not written down the model number of your addressable
converter, now is the time to do. This will allow you to determine the
different options you have available when purchasing your particular
equipment. This chapter will go through a rundown of the boxes from
table 2.1 in chapter two and will tell you what replacements are
available for your converter.
SCIENTIFIC ATLANTA (S.A.)
Scientific Atlanta produces many different models of converters. The
original, and most basic, is the 8500. The 8500 is a beige box with the
buttons on the top panel. As far as replacements for the 8500 go, there
are several. You can use an actual 8500 descrambler, but this is not
always the best idea because 8500's are very old boxes and have been
known to have some problems. A better replacement would be another
Scientific Atlanta model that is a bit newer. The 8535, or 8536 makes a
suitable replacement, as does the 8550. An 8580 will also work nicely,
but is a bit more expensive. As far as two-piece units go, a
non-addressable converter combined with an SA-3 descrambler will work in
most places, but is sometimes temperamental. The best suggestion would
be to go with a newer model Scientific Atlanta descrambler such as the
8536, 8550, or 8580 for trouble-free viewing.
If your cable company issued you a Scientific Atlanta 8511, this is not
an addressable converter. It means they either use a different model
converter for movie channels, or they use a filter system. There is no
descrambler that replaces the 8511.
The Scientific Atlanta 8520 and 8525 are very rare converters. If you
have one of these boxes, your best replacement options are an S.A. 8535,
8536, 8550, or 8580 descrambler. The S.A.-3 two-piece unit will work
sometimes (but its best to stay away from the S.A.-3. It is old and
outdated.) The S.A. models 8535 and 8536 are fairly common.
Suggested replacement options are 8535 or 8536 descramblers. Higher
models, such as the 8550 and 8580 will also work. The advantage of an
8550 or 8580 is that you do not have to switch between modes. On an 8535
or 8536, when you want to view premium channels, you have to manually
flip a switch on the unit to switch between modes.
If your Scientific Atlanta converter is a model 8550, you can replace it
with an 8550 descrambler. This is your best and most inexpensive option.
The 8550 is an easy model to find and works well if the company you buy
it from installs the correct chip. (To determine the correct chip, see
the next chapter on Turn-on Chips.) You can also replace an 8550 with an
8580 descrambler, but 8580
descramblers are usually more expensive. Two-piece units are not favored
for S.A. converters.
The Scientific Atlanta model 8570 is also a relatively rare converter.
Some systems mix 8570's in addition to other models of S.A. converters,
but very rarely do systems us 8570's exclusively. If you happen to have
an 8570 converter it is likely that the only replacement that will work
for you is an 8570. In some places (Staten Island, NY is the most
common) 8570's are used in combination with 8580's. The model 8580
descrambler does not work well there, but the 8570 does. The only
problem is that the channels do not line up the same way they are
supposed to. For instance, what should normally be channel 3, might show
up on channel 18. All the channels are there, just in a different order.
If your cable company issued you an 8570 converter, you should buy an
8570 descrambler. There is no two-piece replacement for the 8570.
If you have a model 8580 converter from your cable company, you are not
alone. This is the most popular model of Scientific Atlanta converter.
You have several options for descramblers. First, is the 8580
descrambler. This is the best all-around choice. It is fully automatic
and almost always trouble-free. Model 8580's are sometimes difficult to
find, but are worth the search. As far as two-piece models go, there are
a couple of pans that work will. The SA M-80, and the SA-DF are the most
popular. They get the job done well, but they have external switches
that must be used to switch between descrambling modes. It can get very
tiresome getting up and switching a switch every time you want to view a
premium channel. But for some, the money saved is worth it. As a note,
the model 8582 converter is the same as the 8580, except that it has a
phone jack in the rear of the unit that can be used to address the box.
As far as replacements go, an 8580 will work just fine, as well as the
other units listed in this paragraph.
The S.A. 8590 and 8595 are Scientific Atlanta's entries in to the base
band converter market. If your cable company issued you an 8590 or 8595
converter, you must replace it with an 8590 or 8595 descrambler. There
is no two-piece unit available on the market at the time of this
writing. When shopping for a descrambler you will probably find that
most companies only have 8590's. If you have the model 8600 converter
from your cable company, you have the most up-to-date converter
available from Scientific Atlanta at this time. The 8600 has features
such as volume control, and on screen graphics. The converter also has
the ability to receive messages from the cable company. When buying a
descrambler, most of the time an 8590 will work, as will a model 8600.
Again, there is no pan available for the 8600. You are best off trying
to locate an 8600 because of the advanced features available with this
GENERAL INSTRUMENT (JERROLD)
Jerrold converters are manufactured by General Instrument Corporation,
these are the most widely used converters in this Country. This section
of the chapter will cover only the Jerrold converter models that are
addressable, since many of the older models are used in conjunction with
The Jerrold models DP5xxx and DPV5xxx are exactly the same, the only
exception is the DPV5xxx has volume control and the DP5xxx does not. The
xxx's stand for numbers that your model number will contain. The numbers
after the 5 vary from box to box and are, for the most part,
insignificant. To replace the DP or DPV5xxx with a descrambler, there
are 3 options that are worth considering. The first is a one-piece DP or
DPV5xxx descrambler. This is an easy box to find because it has been in
existence for quite a while. It is also reliable and reasonably priced.
The second is to use a DP or DPV7xxx descrambler. These models are the
next step up from the DPV5 series and work just as well as A DP or DPV5,
and have the advantage of being newer. They however, are more expensive,
but if for some reason you cannot find a DPV5, the DPV7 is a good
alternative. There are also several two-piece units out on the market
that work very well for the DP and DPV5. The pan portion of these units
come in various styles and go by different names. The latest version out
at this time is the STEALTH descrambler. It seems to be the best
performing unit to date and it is highly recommended. When used with a
high quality non-addressable converter, it will produce a picture just
as good as a factory box. The two-piece units are also much lower in
price than one-piece units.
The most popular Jerrold models are the DP and DPV7xxx. These two models
are the same except that the DPV7 has volume control. The replacement
options are simple. You can use a DP or DPV5 descrambler, a DP or DPV7
descrambler, or the two-piece unit with the STEALTH descrambler as
mentioned in the previous paragraph. Any of these models will bring you
a quality picture.
The model DPBB5xxx is a Jerrold base band converter. Base band is a more
sophisticated signal that is harder to decode. Replacement options for
this model are the DPBB5xxx, and sometimes the DPBB7xxx, although if
your cable company issued you a DPBB5 it is best to get a DPBB5
There are no two-piece units available to replace base band converters.
The DPBB7xxx is similar in concept to the DPBB5, but the DPBB7 has even
more sophisticated technology. The two converters are also completely
different in appearance. The DPBB5 is larger and has a wood grain
appearance, while the DPBB7 is a more modern style and is a bit more
compact and solid black in color. The only replacement for the DPBB7
converter is the DPBB7 descrambler. Unfortunately, these descramblers
are also the hardest to find and the most expensive on the market. If
you have a DPBB7, you might consider using a cube.
The CFT2xxx is also a Jerrold base band converter. It looks the same as
the DPBB7, but has on-screen programming features that the DPBB7 does
not have. Currently there is not a CFT2xxx descrambler, but there are
companies that install an internal cube in the CFT to make it into a
descrambler. The DPBB7 descrambler will work as a replacement for the
CFT2xxx converter. It will function the same, but will not have the
on-screen graphics. An external cube will also do the job.
GENERAL INSTRUMENT (TOCOM)
Tocom converters are also manufactured by General Instrument
Corporation. Incidentally, GI corp is the largest producer of set-top
cable converters in the world. There are only a few different models of
Tocom converters, which makes finding a match all the easier.
The model 5501 is one of the first Tocom converters. The best
replacement for this box is the Tocom model 5503A. Tocom descramblers
are harder to find, but there are quite a number of 5503A descramblers
out there, and these are the easiest to find of all Tocom models.
The model 5503A converter is also replaced by the 5503A descrambler. The
5503VIP and the 5507 will work for the 5503A, but they are much more
expensive, so try to stick with the 5503A if you can find one.
The model 5503VIP is identical in appearance to the 5503A, but is more
advanced. If you have a 5503A converter, you can use a 5503VIP
descrambler, or a 5507 descrambler. If you can find one, the 5503VIP is
slightly less expensive than the 5507, the 5507 is much more modern in
The Tocom model 5507 is almost the same internally as the 5503VIP. The
5507 has a newer and more compact design, plus some updated components.
If your cable company issued you a 5507 converter, the 5507 descrambler
is the only replacement for it. There are no two-piece units available
for Tocom converters. Unfortunately, the 5507 is a very rare box, and
descramblers are very hard to find for it. The descrambler also commands
a premium price, usually over $300.
Pioneer makes several models of converters that are commonly used in the
United States. The most common models are the BA 5000 and the BA 6000
series. If you have a model that is lower than 5000, you can use one of
the replacement descramblers that will be mentioned here. If your cable
company issued you a BA 5xxx converter, you have two replacement
options. The first is a one-piece unit, you can use any model that
starts with five. (For example, if your cable company gave you the model
BA 5130 converter, you can use the model BA 5135 descrambler.) You can
also use a higher model Pioneer descrambler, such as the BA 6100. Any of
these units will work just fine. When you are purchasing a one-piece
descrambler, make sure you mention the city you are planning to use the
unit in. Some areas require a special configuration. Any company that
sells one-piece Pioneer descramblers will know what you need for your
area. You also have the option of using a two-piece unit. There are
several different pans available for Pioneer. The best one to replace a
BA 5000 series converter is the PN-3A pan. It has dual switches on the
back of the unit allowing it to adjust to a wide variety of systems.
This is the most trouble-free pan available for 5000 series Pioneer
If your cable system issued you a Pioneer BA 6110 or 6150 converter, you
have two replacement options. The first would be to use a BA 6110 or
higher descrambler. The BA 6110 descrambler will work fine, but is often
hard to find and can be expensive. The better alternative is a two-piece
unit. The best pan to use with a two-piece system is the Pioneer Green
descrambler. It is fully automatic (no switches) and usually works well.
The Green is also very easy to find, as almost all dealers carry it.
If you have a model BA 6310 or BA 6350 converter, your only suitable
options are a one-piece descrambler with a model number of BA 6300 or
higher. These units are usually difficult to find, but are available.
Occasionally, the two-piece unit with the Green descrambler will work,
but isnít necessarily recommended.
For those of you that are unfortunate enough to have a Pioneer model
that is above BA 6350, there is currently not a reliable replacement
that would work on a consistent basis. Donít get discouraged, its only a
matter of time until a suitable replacement becomes available.
If you have a Zenith converter that was issued to you by your cable
company, your replacement options are relatively simple. There is a
two-piece unit available called the SSAVI, but it is recommended that
you stick with a one-piece descrambler. If the model of your Zenith
converter starts with the letters ST and is followed by four numbers,
you can use the model ST 1600 descrambler to replace your converter.
Example: your converter has the model number ST 1000, you could use an
ST 1000 descrambler, but it is recommended that you use an ST 1600
instead. The reason being that Zenith converters are usually very old
and it is better to stick with a newer model to avoid problems in the
future. Since the ST 1600 will replace any Zenith converter starting
with the letters ST, it saves a lot of time and confusion to go with the
ST 1600. If you really shop around, it is even possible to find a brand
new Zenith ST 1600. They usually run about $300 and are worth the price.
If you have a Zenith converter that has the model number PM-1, PM-2 or
PZ-1, there is currently no replacement descrambler available at this
time. (Some people claim to have something that will work, but there is
no descrambler that will effectively replace any of these 3 models.)
If you have an Oak converter with the model RTC-56, or RKDM-400, it is
best to go with a one-piece descrambler as a replacement. There are some
two-piece units on the market, but their reliability is sometimes
questionable. When you are searching for a replacement for you Oak
converter, you may have to call several dealers before you find one that
has what you need. Many dealers choose not to carry Oak because it is an
old unit and is not widely used in this country.
If you have an Oak converter that is a Sigma series there is currently
no replacement available
If you have a Hamlin converter, reference the model on the bottom and
search for a one-piece replacement. There are very few Hamlin models, so
there is relatively little chance for confusion.
If you have a model CR 6000 converter, use a CR 6000 descrambler. If
you have a model CR 6600 converter, use a CR 6600 descrambler. If you
have the MLD 1200, us the model MLD 1200 descrambler.